In early December 2006 I ran into some trouble in my Viggen. Turning a left-hander and up a slight incline, my left side shock absorber on the front decided it had had enough of the hard life and spilled its guts. The result was a pretty harsh ride for the next 600 meters or so – the last 600 meters I would drive in that car for around 5 weeks.
Over that 5 week period I asked a lot of questions and gathered quite a few opinions as to which units I should get as replacements.
Earlier in 2006 I installed a set of Koni adjustable dampers at the rear wheels. I used these primarily because of the high regard and good reputation that Koni enjoyed with various people that I’d talked too. The fact that Abbott Motorsport marketed them probably helped, too.
Enquiring about the front dampers for such a long period allowed a few contrary opinions to appear though. My natural inclination was to go for Konis again to match the front, but I encountered some bumps in the road.
First and foremost was the warning from Koni themselves. If you go and have a look at their catalog, you’ll see that Koni don’t actually have a set of dampers for the 9-3 Viggen, or the Aero either for that matter. This despite the fact that I’d heard about many people installing Konis – and the fact that Abbott Motorsport and other aftermarket suppliers still offer them for use on the Viggen.
I was surprised to say the least, so I called the Koni distributor. As it turns out they’ve had some trouble with Konis fitted to Viggens and Aeros due to the fact that they’re both already lowered from standard height. These warrantly claims had made them withdraw the listing for these cars in their catalogs, though the dampers were still available at about $650 for the pair.
With those warnings and that price in mind, I started researching other brands.
Eibach were difficult to track down and sounded too expensive for my budget anyway.
Bilstein were also highly regarded but at around $850 for the pair were also a bit beyond my budget (I had a pretty expensive Christmas!)
I also got quoted on a pair of OEM front shocks and they were around $400 per damper too.
All of a sudden the Konis were looking more attractive. I had limited funds, many positive reviews as well as a few words of caution, a manufacturer that didn’t recommend them for my car but two mechanics that did. Considering that I’d been walking past my Viggen to drive my wife’s 9000CS (an auto) for the last five weeks, the decision was pretty easy in the end. The Konis were ordered from Swedish Prestige in Melbourne and arrived a few days later.
I’ve now been driving on them for two months and I’ve got to say I’m impressed. I’ve always thought of dampers etc as being things that you’ll only notice if something goes wrong. On that score the Koni’s are faultless as the ride at the front end is smoother that Will Smith in a kodak moment.
Added to that you’ve got the option to dial up some hardness. All it takes is about 30 seconds with the little plastic handle supplied with the dampers and you’ve gone from soft supple bounce to rock-hardness. This is a pretty uncomfortable way to drive though.
I can imagine dialing up both the front and rear on a track day for a bit more stability through the corners, but I fear for what would happen to the car if I drove with both dialled up to full hardness for a prolonged period of time. A car’s made a certain way so that various bits absorb vibration. Stiffen one of those bits in the system and all of a sudden the others have to compensate and it’s reasonable to assume that some won’t cope.
The Konis are certainly effective at what they do. At the soft setting they deliver a very smooth and comfortable ride that’s easily comparable to the OEM units I had beforehand. The ability to adjust them between this very comfortable setting and some serious hard setting is nice to have, though in reality they’ll likely have a pretty cushy life.
Long term reliability will be a matter of wait-n-see, but so far, so good. Anyone else with a Viggen or an Aero OG9-3 should do their homework and satisfy themselves that the Konis will do what they need them to do.
But I’ve got no complaints whatsoever at this point.